It would seem that Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote a story about John Conyer’s “conference ” on the so-called Downing Street Memo.
It would seem, not in keeping with The Wapo‘s normally liberal editorial bent, that Milbank’s article was not very flattering to Mr. Conyers.
And my oh my, I thought Milbank’s article to be hilarious, refreshing and a sweet breeze in the sweaty world of spin.
Then I discover that John Conyers, a man famous for losing turkeys, more on this later, not to mention his vaunted congressional “hearings” on the Ohio vote, has responded to Milbank’s article in a letter to the editor to the WAPO.
Just in case the WAPO doesn’t publish Conyers’ letter, a Blogger got a hold of the letter and published it on his Blog.
Which I consider odd in that the Conyers’ people did not forward a copy to me, who is also a Blogger.
But judging by the content of “Brad’s Blog” I imagine ole Brad is already on the Dems’ payroll.
Thus I must, in the interest of fair and balanced, respond to Conyers’ letter to the editor and defend Dana Milbanks. From an unabashedly amused conservative perspective..
The Downing Street Memo is some sort of scribble by some two bit aide in England that is supposed to be solid proof that Cheney and Bush twisted intelligence to manipulate the reason for war. This is the document for which Conyers held his congressional “conference.”
I will post Conyers’ response to Milbank’s reporting in bold with mine own wise comments immediately below in italics.
June 17, 2005
Mr. Michael Abramowitz, National Editor Mr. Michael Getler, Ombudsman Mr. Dana Milbank The Washington Post 1150 15th Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20071
I write to express my profound disappointment with Dana Milbank’s June 17 report, “Democrats Play House to Rally Against the War,” which purports to describe a Democratic hearing I chaired in the Capitol yesterday. In sum, the piece cherry-picks some facts, manufactures others out of whole cloth, and does a disservice to some 30 members of Congress who persevered under difficult circumstances, not of our own making, to examine a very serious subject: whether the American people were deliberately misled in the lead up to war. The fact that this was the Post’s only coverage of this event makes the journalistic shortcomings in this piece even more egregious.
Oh my, John, aren’t we angry. Already I’m laughing at the title of Milbank’s article. Though I can certainly see why you take offense.
In an inaccurate piece of reporting that typifies the article, Milbank implies that one of the obstacles the Members in the meeting have is that “only one” member has mentioned the Downing Street Minutes on the floor of either the House or Senate. This is not only incorrect but misleading. In fact, just yesterday, the Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, mentioned it on the Senate floor. Senator Boxer talked at some length about it at the recent confirmation hearing for the Ambassador to Iraq. The House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, recently signed on to my letter, along with 121 other Democrats asking for answers about the memo. This information is not difficult to find either. For example, the Reid speech was the subject of an AP wire service report posted on the Washington Post website with the headline “Democrats Cite Downing Street Memo in Bolton Fight”. Other similar mistakes, mischaracterizations and cheap shots are littered throughout the article.
John. Do the math. Milbank’s said “only one member has mentioned the Downing Street Minutes on the floor of either the House or Senate” by your own quote. Then you go on to mention when Harry Reid mentioned it on the Senate floor. You say Senator Boxer talked about during a confirmation hearing on Bolton. This is not quite the same thing as the “Senate floor” but I’ll allow your umbrage. Then you say Nancy Pelosi signed a letter. You go to great lengths citing where the Reid speech could be found and yet Milbank’s DID say there was only “one” mention on the Senate floor. Can’t we reasonably assume that Milbank was referring to Reid’s mention without all your grandstanding? Then you go on with the Boxer thing and again your mincing Milbank’s words.
But hey, you’re confusing the reader with a vomit of verbiage so perhaps you are accomplishing what you want.
The article begins with an especially mean and nasty tone, claiming that House Democrats “pretended” a small conference was the Judiciary Committee hearing room and deriding the decor of the room. Milbank fails to share with his readers one essential fact: the reason the hearing was held in that room, an important piece of context. Despite the fact that a number of other suitable rooms were available in the Capitol and House office buildings, Republicans declined my request for each and every one of them. Milbank could have written about the perseverance of many of my colleagues in the face of such adverse circumstances, but declined to do so. Milbank also ignores the critical fact picked up by the AP, CNN and other newsletters that at the very moment the hearing was scheduled to begin, the Republican Leadership scheduled an almost unprecedented number of 11 consecutive floor votes, making it next to impossible for most Members to participate in the first hour and one half of the hearing.
So the “Republicans” denied use of taxpayer paid rooms for a publicity stunt that had never been raised or voted upon in the chambers of congress? And gasp, the Republicans went ahead and scheduled congressional business on congressional time? This is a bad thing because ,,,?
You could have used the turkey money to rent a meeting room at the Holiday Inn, John. Although I understand that you wanted your great conference in the hallowed halls of congress only Dana Milbank wasn’t buying it.
I’d say yes indeed Milbank editorialized and editorialized a bit more than is wise in what should be an impartial Journalism.
I understand it very well, John. A conservative reading the New York Times, hey, I get it.
That being said, Milbank’s comments on the decor are hilarious. Forgive me.
In what can only be described as a deliberate effort to discredit the entire hearing, Milbank quotes one of the witnesses as making an anti-semitic assertion and further describes anti-semitic literature that was being handed out in the overflow room for the event. First, let me be clear: I consider myself to be friend and supporter of Israel and there were a number of other staunchly pro-Israel members who were in attendance at the hearing. I do not agree with, support, or condone any comments asserting Israeli control over U.S. policy, and I find any allegation that Israel is trying to dominate the world or had anything to do with the September 11 tragedy disgusting and offensive.
That said, to give such emphasis to 100 seconds of a 3 hour and five minute hearing that included the powerful and sad testimony (hardly mentioned by Milbank) of a woman who lost her son in the Iraq war and now feels lied to as a result of the Downing Street Minutes, is incredibly misleading. Many, many different pamphlets were being passed out at the overflow room, including pamphlets about getting out of the Iraq war and anti-Central American Free Trade Agreement, and it is puzzling why Milbank saw fit to only mention the one he did.
John, only 100 seconds of a 3 hour and five minute hearing devoted to anti-Semitism is about 105 seconds too many. Thusly, one anti-Semitic brochure is also one too many.
Milbank was right to mention this. You’d certainly want him to mention any racist remarks made at a Republican conference I suspect.
All that bit about loving Israel is too much. We know your Arab contributors demanded the time.
In a typically derisive and uninformed passage, Milbank makes much of other lawmakers calling me “Mr. Chairman” and says I liked it so much that I used “chairmanly phrases.” Milbank may not know that I was the Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee from 1988 to 1994. By protocol and tradition in the House, once you have been a Chairman you are always referred to as such. Thus, there was nothing unusual about my being referred to as Mr. Chairman.
If you say so, John. Somehow I really doubt that if Senator Boxer were to introduce you to a California colleague that she would refer to you as Chairman Conyers. Though I could be wrong.
I do think Milbank got it right.
To administer his coup-de-grace, Milbank literally makes up another cheap shot that I “was having so much fun that [I] ignored aides’ entreaties to end the session.” This did not occur. None of my aides offered entreaties to end the session and I have no idea where Milbank gets that information. The hearing certainly ran longer than expected, but that was because so many Members of Congress persevered under very difficult circumstances to attend, and I thought – given that – the least I could do was allow them to say their piece. That is called courtesy, not “fun.”
Milbank didn’t refer to “your” aides, congressman. I bet there were other congress critters’ aides in that meeting imploring their boss to come along. And I bet you ignored all the whispering just as Milbank describes.
I’m quite sure “your” aides would never dare to tell you to hurry along.
By the way, the “Downing Street Memo” is actually the minutes of a British cabinet meeting. In the meeting, British officials – having just met with their American counterparts – describe their discussions with such counterparts. I mention this because that basic piece of context, a simple description of the memo, is found nowhere in Milbank’s article.
The fact that I and my fellow Democrats had to stuff a hearing into a room the size of a large closet to hold a hearing on an important issue shouldn’t make us the object of ridicule. In my opinion, the ridicule should be placed in two places: first, at the feet of Republicans who are so afraid to discuss ideas and facts that they try to sabotage our efforts to do so; and second, on Dana Milbank and the Washington Post, who do not feel the need to give serious coverage on a serious hearing about a serious matter-whether more than 1700 Americans have died because of a deliberate lie. Milbank may disagree, but the Post certainly owed its readers some coverage of that viewpoint.
John Conyers, Jr.
What can I say, Mr. Conyers? Dana Milbank called it as he saw it.
Sounds like the guy got tired at once too often having his chain jerked by self-serving congress critters such as yourself.
Tell you what.
Why don’t you raise the matter of a review of the Downing Street Memo up on the floor of the House? Better, ask Nancy Pelosi to bring up the matter on the Senate floor.
Why not do this per the rules of congress; per the rules of our constitution, in front of our duly elected representatives?
Because you might lose that vote, Congressman Conyers?
Because in this country we have a democracy of a President and congress elected by the people and Mr. Conyers, that’s just the way it goes.
No, Milbank wasn’t at all fair and journalistic. He was writing a story. He injected a bit too much opinion.
Now you know how conservatives feel, every time a PBS broadcast comes on and each day the New York Times publishes its rag.
Oh, and about those turkeys, shameless Blog promo here, but I will never forget the turkey brouhaha last year coming out of Conyers’ Detroit office.
Yet it’s an opinionated thing.
But then I’m a Blogger.
I don’t pretend NOT to have an opinion.
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